Newry-based financial software and consultancy firm First Derivatives has announced the formation of FD Labs, a new research and development division in Ottawa, Canada.
FD Labs will identify, innovate and develop new software product opportunities in emerging areas such as SaaS (software as a service) analytics, fast data visualisation and the 'internet of things' - a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.
FD labs will also focus the company's global expertise in embedded software, programming languages, Cloud/SaaS environments, user experience and IDE (integrated drive electronics) technology, machine learning and predictive analytics.
Tech luminary Dave Thomas has now joined the company as chief scientist, along with his long-time collaborator Dr Brian Barry, who has been appointed head of FD Labs.
FD chief executive Brian Conlon said: "We are excited to have two of the IT industry's most respected pioneers on our team.
"They will help us advance the development of kdb+ (the world's leading structured database) with a feature-rich enterprise platform that makes the technology straightforward to develop and manage."
FD is Northern Ireland's largest listed company - and said it had chosen Ottowa as the base for its latest venture as it's the location of Dave Thomas and Dr Barry.
In 2014, FD created 484 new jobs at its Newry base, after it received £3.9m from Invest NI, bringing the global total of its workforce to almost 1,500.
In June, the company announced a pre-tax profits rise of 120%, from £7.9m in 2014 to £17.5m this year.
The company put the successful year down to a number of fruitful acquisitions, in particular an increased investment in Kx Systems.
In October 2014, FD increased its stake in the Silicon Valley-based big fast data firm from 20% to 65%, and in February bought software company Prelytix LLC for an initial fee of £4.9m.
In March, FD made two more acquisitions, Ontario-based software development consultancy Affinity Systems Ltd for an initial £3.8m, and Dublin-based software business ActivateClients Ltd for an initial £3.3m.
Mr Conlon, winner of the 2015 Belfast Telegraph's Business Personality of the Year title, set up the company in 1996 in his mother's home in Newry.